Antisocial Personality Disorder, Sociopaths and Love
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Individuals with antisocial personality disorder often violate the law, becoming criminals. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. Because of these characteristics, people with this disorder typically can't fulfill responsibilities related to family, work or school.
If a sociopath is someone who, because he is antisocial with no conscience, lies, manipulates and controls people any way he so desires, what is a narcissistic sociopath? The traits and behaviors of a sociopath are chilling enough on their own. Almost unbelievably, a narcissistic sociopath intensifies sociopathy and takes it to another level.
People are toys to the sociopath; to the sociopathic narcissist, they are trash. Sociopathy combined with narcissism can be extremely dangerous. Beware the narcissistic sociopath.
Officially, What is a Narcissistic Sociopath?
The American Psychiatric Association (2013) describes and defines both Antisocial Personality Disorder (the clinical term for what is commonly called psychopathy or sociopathy) and narcissistic personality disorder in its authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
Antisocial personality disorder is "a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years"
Narcissistic personality disorder is "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.
Those are separate definitions of these personality disorders. It is possible to be clinically diagnosed with both simultaneously. Cold callousness and lack of empathy for others, plus grandiose self-admiration and disdain for others equals a sociopathic narcissist who believes that she deserves to exploit people and dispose of them when finished.
Narcissistic Sociopath is a Bad Combination
Sociopath and psychopath are words that commonly describe antisocial personality disorder. Sometimes they're used interchangeably, but some experts differentiate between the two. Perhaps inserting narcissism into the mix might help people decide which term to use.
A sociopath doesn't care if he's benefitting anyone. Cold, calculating, and manipulative, he doesn't think about others at all unless they can benefit him.
A narcissist believes he's great, that everything about him is magnificent. He knows with unwavering confidence even beyond conceit that he's benefitting everyone around him and more.
In reading a wide variety of literature, patterns become evident. It appears that it is a combination of these personalities that constitutes a narcissistic sociopath. Further, it's the description of narcissistic sociopath that is the common conceptualization of the psychopath.
Traits of a Narcissistic Sociopath
How do you spot a sociopathic narcissist? Watch for certain traits:
A driven quest for power. If a narcissistic sociopath cares about anything other than himself, it is destructive power and control over people.
Behaviors that seek love and admiration. To be sure, this isn't needy love. It's not even emotional love. It's superficial. A narcissistic sociopath sees love and admiration as power tools to manipulate and dominate.
No apologies, no guilt, no remorse under any circumstance. A sociopathic narcissist believes that she is a gift to the world who makes it richer and more colorful. Therefore, her calculated, even cruel actions are always justified.
Invincibility. The narcissistic variety of sociopath believes he is indomitable. Even punishment and prison can't stop him. They're merely part of the game.
Wholly self-serving. The needs and wants of others are insignificant and undeserving of consideration.
Act as the producer, director, and only actor of his own show. The narcissistic sociopath casts people in roles that increase his power and sense of importance and when bored, casts them aside.
Can sociopaths love? Can sociopaths fall in love? If you truly know and understand the sociopath, then you know these questions are almost laughable.
Sociopaths often act like they are in love. To the outside world, it looks like they love. Given that a definition of a sociopath is a person who lacks empathy and has antisocial personality disorder, apart from others and separate from the rules and norms of society, it's odd that someone like this can look like they're truly in love. Sociopaths are nothing if not confusing, partly because sociopathic traits and characteristics contradict each other at times. Upon closer examination, though, it makes perfect sense to ask, "Can a sociopath fall in love?"
Can Sociopaths Love?
If we manipulate the definition of love the way sociopaths manipulate people, then sure, sociopaths can love. To truly make this claim, though, we have to give love a definition that suits us in this moment. Don't worry, we can act like a sociopath and redefine it to our liking anytime we so desire.
- When love is a tool to be used to trap and manipulate someone, sociopaths can love.
- When love is said easily by the lips but not felt by the heart, sociopaths can love.
- When love is a feeling of fascination or power rather than an emotion, sociopaths can love.
- When love is a shallow lie told for personal gain rather than an expression of connection, sociopaths can love.
- When love is synonymous with sex and sex is nothing other than momentary and meaningless physical pleasure, then sociopaths can love.
- When love is a word rather than a feeling, sociopaths can love.
- When love involves pretending, playing a role to gain something for yourself, then sociopaths can love.
To a sociopath, true love is a love of him/herself power playing and winning his/her version of the game of life.
A sociopath can put on a great show and act in loving ways. He can pretend to love and to care, and you have no idea that he's constantly assessing which of your buttons to push and when to push them. She can gush and express her love and devotion. But truly, can sociopaths love?
When love is a deep and complex emotion, a feeling of fondness, tenderness, bonding, and connection between human beings, no, a sociopath cannot love.
What is Loving a Sociopath Like?
The sociopath is a social predator who charms his way into people's lives. He slithers his way in because he has a greater purpose; he senses the opportunity for personal gain. Thus begins his game. To win trust and ensure naïveté, he begins courtship. He pretends to love because he wants love in return. He cares nothing for the feelings of love but instead wants love as a manipulative tool.
The best way to receive love is to give love, and the sociopath sets out to give and receive. Loving a sociopath has been described as wonderful and exhilarating (Buttafuoco, 2009). Because a sociopath shapes her persona to match that of her prey of the moment, loving a sociopath can feel like finding a soulmate. She is a perfect fit in every way.
To be in love with a sociopath can be full of laughter and fun, so much so that ignoring the odd personality traits that pop up from time to time becomes second nature. Says Mary Jo Buttafuoco (2009), "...I stuck it out during the bad times, because the good times were fantastic."
Eventually, the honeymoon comes to an end. The sociopath gets whatever he was after in the first place, and then he rapidly becomes bored. Constantly needing thrills and stimulation, he drops the charade and moves on. This can happen suddenly, leaving the victim, who thought she/he was in love, shocked, hurt, and confused.
It is absolutely possible to be in love with a sociopath. Can a sociopath love back? Yes, but only by his own definition of love, a manipulative, uncaring, unemotional kind of love.